There's very few headlines that have the ability to truly surprise anymore -- but was actually pretty shocking to learn late this afternoon that free agent Jayson Werth is leaving the Phillies for a lucrative-beyond belief seven-year, $126 million deal....with the Washington Nationals. That means will be seening the scruffy right-fielder 19 times a year for the foreseeable future. Almost all of the speculation had focused on Werth and his towering shots aiming for the Green Monster in Fenway Park -- I had not poured over every word of the coverage but I was not aware that the Nats were even in the ballpark for Werth. Wow.
I glanced at the comments on Philly.com and most were what you'd expect, about how awful the Nationals are and that Werth isn't going to change that. Perhaps. The Nationals have truly stunk their entire existence in Washington (not that Montreal was much better) and I have to believe they'll still be pretty stinky in 2011. But that could change in 2012. I think Phillies fans should be concerned about what's happening in the nation's capital, and not just because of the corrupt and inept people running the government there.
It didn't seem as if any of the Philly.com commenters have heard of Bryce Harper (pictured at top). Shame on them. The future National is nothing less than the Tiger Woods (hold the jokes, alright) of baseball, groomed to be a superstar at a young age and putting up ridiculous numbers at every level he's played, most recently the Arizona Fall League. He should arrive in D.C. in 2012 -- the same year that we learn whether the Nationals' other phenom, Stephen Strasburg -- remember him? -- recovers from Tommy John surgery. Adding those two players into an everyday lineup with Werth and Ryan Zimmerman won't only make the Nats competitive, but will make the team attractive to other free agents.
The 2012 Phillies will hopefully have some new blood but certainly could be older and may be without Roy Oswalt or even, unlikely as it sounds, Jimmy Rollins. That said. I still think the Phillies will put themselves in a position to win in 2012 and beyond, but it won't be by standing pat. On the other hand, this is the same advice we've all been giving Barack Obama, and he hasn't listened.
One more quick observation: The obscene size and length of Werth's contract shows how silly it was to speculate that the Phils would keep him.